Picture this - I bake a cake, spread the cream, then decorate. I fantasize about piping the frosting in a stunning new design (hopefully!!). Cold feet, jitters...do I really dare to try a new tip or design? What if the tip does not give the design or effect I aim at? Can't risk the cake looking like a child has tried to pipe it, right? Yes, so pipe the same old thing again. Do you feel like this too? Or are you an artist who would love to pipe designs away just for the fun and creative aspect of it? And without preparing a real cake and the real, edible butter cream again and again just for the practice? Wouldn't it be great to have a 'butter cream' which can be made and stored for a year? Something that can be prepared, used and reused for practicing piping techniques. A 'butter cream' which will help us better the art of piping decorations. Yes, Practice 'Butter Cream'!!
Have you heard of this before? You would have, if you have attended a cake decorating course. I read about this for the first time in The Cake Bible by Rose Beranbaum. Lot of us love to decorate our cakes, but not everyone has an artistic free hand. And if there is a competition for clumsy art, I would be adjudged the first unanimously!! I have baked and decorated a few cakes over the years and have longed to try different tips, different designs while piping frosting on a cake. But as you have seen, I have stuck to the boring same old tips and piped them the same way again and again.. yaaawn!!
This 'butter cream' is made of solid vegetable shortening, sugar, corn syrup and water. I guess you can't dip your finger in the cream and lick it as you pipe or while you clean the bowl and pasty bags. Don't even attempt to eat it. Nope its not fatal to eat it. But I guess you may not become a raving fan of the very sweet greasy vegetable shortening either.
But since the objective here is the functionality and not taste, I am for once very happy to say - never mind how it tastes, just go ahead and make this for just practice. The icing on the cake (literally) will be the eye appeal of your real decorated cake later...
This is the recipe as given in The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She says this 'butter cream' can be stored at room temperature for one year and indefinitely in the fridge. Rose says you could re-beat the cream occasionally using a flat beater at slow medium speed to keep it smooth. And it may be chilled to speed up firming if it softens during use.
Ingredients: All ingredients at room temperature. The corn syrup adds moisture and shine. Please Note: The below proportions are for using the butter cream for regular consistency suitable for piping borders etc. For thin and firm consistency, you would need to alter the proportions as given in the note below. I have weighted the shortening and the sugar and used my hand mixer for beating this.
Solid vegetable shortening / Dalda - 1 1/2 cups - 287 grams
Powdered sugar - 4 cups - 452 grams (lightly spooned into the cup)
Water - 2 tablespoons
Light Corn syrup - 1 tablespoon
Procedure: In a large mixing bowl, place the shortening. Gradually beat in the remaining ingredients at low speed, alternating dry and liquid. Increase speed to medium and beat till smooth and creamy. Mine did not turn out very smooth, maybe I should have powdered the sugar even more fine. Scrape the sides occasionally. Store in an airtight container.
For consistency variation:
Thin consistency - For writing, stems and leaves - use 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup.
Stiff consistency - For flowers with upright petals such as roses, omit the corn syrup.
The above recipe is supposed to give a yield of 3 cups, but I got about 3 1/2 cups. The vegetable shortening was quite soft as its hot now, I put it in the freezer for some time to firm up. Am not sure if this had an impact on the end product and the quantity.
When stored at room temperature, the butter cream works better for practice when its kept in the fridge for half an hour or so to firm up. If stored in the fridge, it remains quite hard, you may need to thaw for sometime before you use. I have stored mine at room temperature. You could chill in the fridge in between practices.
For fellow Bangalore bakers - The corn syrup is from Nilgiris, Brigade road. You could try substituting with honey?
I read a couple of more recipes which have meringue powder in them. Do you have a similar favorite recipe which worked well for you? Do share with me..